Kudzu is a vine that inhabits a large portion of the southern USA. Recent research has suggested that Kudzu contains a compound that can help curb drinking. Apparently, according to researchers, this compound speeds up the effects of alcohol in the blood. In other words, if you normally feel drunk after six drinks then taking Kudzu may cause you to feel drunk after only three drinks thereby limiting the amount of alcohol you would normally consume.
One Kudzu study showed that when rats that had become alcoholic were treated with Kudzu they experienced fewer withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol source was taken away abruptly.
Dr. Wing Ming Keung, a pathology professor at Harvard Medical School, has studied Kudzu and is now working on extracting the compound and then turning it into a drug that can help reduce a persons alcohol cravings. One of his studies, done at Harvard Medical School, found that two key components of Kudzu, daidzin and daidzein, were responsible for the reduction in intake of ethanol in hamsters that had been bred to consume large amounts of ethanol. The possible parallels with humans and alcohol are obvious.
While some of the recent studies paint a promising future for Kudzu at fighting alcohol abuse there is at least one study that did not support Kudzu use. The Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Prescott Arizona conducted a study in 2000 on a small patient population and determined that, in their case, Kudzu performed no better than placebo at reducing alcohol consumption.
However, one of the more recent studies conducted in 2005 showed that “An Extract of the Chinese Herbal Root Kudzu Reduces Alcohol Drinking by Heavy Drinkers in a Naturalistic Setting”. This study indicated that Kudzu treatment resulted “in a significant reduction in the number of beers consumed.” It also showed that there was an “increase in the number of sips and the time to consume each beer and a decrease in the volume of each sip.” Their study participants also reported no side effects related to the Kudzu treatment.